Oklahoma lawmaker proposes changes to Reading Sufficiency Act

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OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma organization and senator are teaming up to take on a law that focuses on a child’s ability to read.

Right now, Oklahoma third graders are required to take the Reading Sufficiency Act before they can move on to the fourth grade.

But, not everyone supports the law.

“Tests serve a purpose, but they should never be the one time on one date to define a child,” said Katherine Bishop, vice president of the Oklahoma Education Association.

The Oklahoma Education Association and some lawmakers think the law punishes the child too much.

“The test doesn’t do anything positive for the school, the students or the parent,” said Oklahoma Sen. J.J Dossett.

Dossett has introduced a measure eliminating the requirement third grade students be held back under the Reading Sufficiency Act.

However, he said it maintains support for struggling readers.

At the same time, Dossett wants to toss out the U.S. History assessment for high school students.

“I taught U.S. history for years at Owasso High School,” Dossett said. “The test doesn’t do anything positive.”

“Our teachers, our students, our parents want more time on learning and less on testing,” Bishop said.

However, other state leaders contend the Reading Sufficiency Act works.

In 2015, tests showed 85 percent of third graders passed the test and were prepared for fourth grade.

In a statement, Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said “Our focus on early learning reading is working. Through RSA, we are reaching schoolchildren who need help the most. It is important that we continue to build momentum with literacy by fostering parent engagement with strategic interventions for students.”

But, like most things in education, testing comes at a cost.

“Last year, we spent more than $17 million on state testing. Those are resources we need to give back to the classroom,” Bishop said.

The history test is not federally mandated like math, science and English.

Opponents we spoke with in the past fear, if students aren’t tested on it, it won’t be taught.

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